The Evidence - Why does sales and marketing alignment matter and how do we create it?
Ask yourself this simple question - do you have the courage to ask for the order? For it is courage that is required to close the sale. No matter how big the brand, how great the product or how certain the sale looks; there is always the risk they will say no.
Although we live in an increasingly digital age, the most valuable decisions are still made face to face and until we find a better way, that means putting people into the field to close the deal. And for most B2B Marketers, that makes the salesperson our most valuable ally; the one that crystallises the potential we create as revenue that pays the bills. It also makes them our most vocal critic; because in today's market, when the buyer is 70% done by the time they meet, we cannot expect them to win if they have a weaker proposition than the competition.
Its now widely accepted that Buyers have taken control of what was once the sales process. Empowered by choice in markets that typically offer 2 or 3 ‘good enough’ solutions, and with access to 20 times the market information they had only 5 years ago, the modern buyer is a force to be reckoned with. But lets not imagine that means the death of sales, or even the long hoped for rise of the Marketing Department’s stock in the modern B2B enterprise. Instead, research consistently shows that CEO’s continue to question the value of marketing while pushing ever harder on Sales.
So alignment matters, because without it we lose sight of the customer and are less efficient and effective as a result.
After years of pressure on pipeline numbers and an ever-narrowing focus on marketing as ‘lead-gen’ there are signs that things are changing. The combination of enlightened sales teams that recognise the value they deliver is shifting; with Marketers bold enough to forge a new relationship through action rather than words, is having a dramatic effect. In the Evidence report of 2013, I commented on the lack of reference to sales in the B2B Marketing Awards. In 2014 the team called my bluff and introduced a dedicated award category for Sales & Marketing alignment, so I return to the subject for the 2014 Evidence and look forward to sharing what I found across all of the award categories.